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‘Twitter’s Creating More Questions Than Solving Problems,’ Says Maltese MEP After Privacy Update

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Twitter is tightening its privacy policy with the aim of limiting the risk of cybercrimes, however, the expansion has been met with backlash with many people questioning whether it would be practical to enforce.

“Although the intention of Twitter was a good one, at face-value it seems that Twitter’s last updated rules have created more questions than solved problems,” Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba told Lovin Malta.

The platform’s new policy contains a number of updates that have raised the eyebrows of free-speech experts. Twitter has declared that they will remove photos or videos of individuals that did not consent to having their image shared, even if they are in a public place.

“This policy is not applicable to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse,” the policy states.

However, it assured that if a particular image and the accompanying tweet text adds value to the public discourse, is being shared in public interest, or is relevant to the community, then they will reevaluate.

This is what worries experts.

Twitter is giving itself the position to decide what is newsworthy, who is a public figure and what is in the public interest. Sometimes, when too many lines are drawn more harm is done.

Critics have also said that the policy is too vague.

“It’s going to create a very difficult job for human moderators to assess the context in each instance, and seems likely to lead to over-moderation or removal of legitimate content,” the director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, Evan Greer, said.

If activists protest outside, say, the new CEO of Twitter’s house and tweet a photo of the protest, is that covered? If a trans person films someone verbally harassing them, is that covered? Without more transparency and safeguards in place, it just seems like this is a policy that will be abused by people with power to censor legitimate online criticism,” he continued.

Agius Saliba held a similar opinion: “I believe that platforms such as Twitter should be more clear when updating their moderation policies to put users’ minds at rest that over-removal of legitimate and non harmful content would not take place.”

Agius Saliba played an essential role in the discussions of the Digital Services Act which is a report that aims to protect the fundamental rights in the online environment, as well as online anonymity wherever technically possible.

They call for transparency, information obligations and accountability for digital services providers and advocate for effective obligations to tackle illegal content online.

They also advocate for public oversight at EU and national level, and cooperation between authorities across jurisdictions in enforcing the law, especially when addressing cross-border matters.

“In the DSA we are moving forward a number of provisions to make it more clear when and how content should be removed by social media platforms,” Agius Saliba explained.

“This will give users more visibility on how algorithms and human moderation is working.”

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

What do you think about Twitter’s new policy updates?

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Ana’s a university student who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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